State Line Big John

State Line Big John

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I just got back from a five day trip down South with my dad—we met in Memphis and took a little road trip through Tennessee, Mississippi and dipped into Alabama for an afternoon. Of course I made a pre-trip map, and we managed to hit all of my stops, and more. When we pulled up to the State Line Big John—so named because he lives just over the Tennessee-Mississippi border—my dad exclaimed "It's not an Allie road trip without a big statue!" (very true).

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Built for the Big John grocery store chain based out of Illinois, Big John statues are about 30 feet tall. The stores and statues were named after the 1961 Jimmy Dean song, Big Bad John and the statues originally wore checkered shirts, aprons and blue jeans and carried four grocery bags stuffed full of food.

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Big Johns are understandably often confused with Muffler Men, although they're much more rare—of the 30 or so originally produced, only eight are publicly accessible now, according to Roadside America. The State Line Big John stands outside of a Boom City fireworks store and he looks as if he has recently received quite the makeover. His shirt now features the Boom City logo and he is sporting sunglasses, a fedora and even a gold tooth. 

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I'm sad that this Big John no longer holds his grocery bags (or even a big firework)—I thought the pole was structural at first, but now I think it's probably for holding a sign. Of course I would have loved to see this guy in his original state, but an extreme makeover (however dubious) is much preferred to losing this classic piece of Americana altogether.


State Line Big John
9199 US-61
Walls, Mississippi 38680

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